COMMUNITY PARTNER HIGHLIGHT: VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA BY CAROLYN HAMMOND, VOA DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
FUMC and its congregation help to make the Travis Street LightHouse a quality program. First UMC provides a building and, most recently, furnishings to give our youth a safe and decent place to come every day. Additionally, the congregation has provided volunteers to help our youth have success in school, but there is always room for more. Volunteers do not have to be math or English experts. What we really need are volunteers who are genuinely interested in trying to help a youth. Sometimes that one-on-one attention can make all the difference. Volunteers are needed to help with homework, read or be read to, share a talent, or mentor a youth.
In America today, 11.3 million children are alone and unsupervised after school. After-school programs keep kids safe, help working families, and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults. The Lights On After-school event, which was hosted at First UMC, is intended to bring awareness of the good work being done every day in after-school programs across our country. The Shreveport-Bossier event included students reading personal essays about why they participate in their after-school programs and also performances from ten participating programs! Children shared how they are blessed by the efforts of the teachers and volunteers who give their time each afternoon to make sure they are safe, cared for, and growing academically. This was initiated by the Coalition of Out-of-School Time Services (COSTS). COSTS is working to bring awareness and implement quality after school programs in our community.
The Travis Street LightHouse children come to First UMC every Wednesday for Wacky Wednesdays, led by Staci Zeagler, where they play games, make crafts, have a snack, and enjoy worship time. The 7th-12th grade students have begun participating in TNT on Thursdays with the youth, and they love it! I encourage you to work with these great kids through either of these programs or through tutoring or mentoring.
COMMUNITY FUN HIGHLIGHT: COMMON GROUND COMMUNITY FUN FEST
Common Ground hosted their Community Fall Fest, providing a safe, Christian, family environment for the Cedar Grove community! With a block party atmosphere, including a band, games, cake walk, and yummy grilled dinner, all ages came together to see what the Common Ground program has to offer. This fun night couldn’t have happened without the support of First UMC. Thanks to all who supported them!
MINISTRY SERVING HIGHLIGHT
Circle One, led by Toya DeBeaux, served the Hub Urban Ministry, collecting more than 100 cans of soup and by making 100 care packets. These included such items as warm caps, socks, toiletries, and snacks. The Hub exists to walk those in poverty through a process that gives them hope, friendship, community, a place they belong, and the skills needed to become self-sufficient, which brings them value and worth. Thanks to Circle One for helping them meet their mission with these gifts!
SOMETHING TO READ: TOXIC CHARITY by Robert Lupton
First UMC helped sponsor a community discussion led by Robert Lupton, author of Toxic Charity. It is highly suggested reading material for all who serve. He wants our churches and agencies to remember that developing people is different than serving people. It was an eye-opening event that helped define people in crisis situations versus chronic situations. Our mission is to care for people in a transformational way while helping our membership live missional lives, so we will carefully evaluate our volunteering and giving to make sure that “above all, we do